[SCA-Dance] La Volta questions

Jen Kennedy jen_kennedy at warpmail.net
Mon Feb 6 08:56:24 EST 2006

In my opinion, the "volta" shown in the movie "Elizabeth" is pretty far
off the mark as a reconstruction of the dance described by Arbeau. Every
reconstruction I have seen/practiced (3 from different people, but all
relatively similar) of a volta comes out looking a good deal different
from the one in the movie. The movie is most use for giving a feel for
the practice of dance in the social context of a formal enertainment.

The volta as described by Arbeau, IIRC, is a galliard variation--a showy
move for dancers who are young, fit, and unconstrained by considerations
of propriety (Arbeau sneers at the servant girls who allow themselves to
be so indelicately flung about that one might see their petticoats or
worse, legs... evan up to the thigh! <gasp>). In the movie, the hall
falls silent when the Queen commands a volta--I imagine the respectable
courtiers were wholly shocked at such impulsive idiocy.
In actuality I think one would not command musicians play a volta, but
as people were finishing their pavanes and beginning to dance the
accompanying tourdion/galliard, a bold youth might insert among his
ruade, ru du vache, etc. a couple measures of the volta sequence (step,
kick, jump and land), while approaching hhis partner; and if she
accepted his offer, she would match his rhythm and take position, and
next repeat of the sequence they would perform the volta lift-and-turn
(step, lift, turn, and and land) repeating as many times as they had
stamina for before resuming the sequence in preparation for another set
of turns, or disengaging in favor of more galliarding. 

So to my best understanding (welcoming correction from those who have
given this more study) the volta is not a dance on its own, but part of
a step or sequence vocabulary for semi-improvised dance in a certain
style. It is physically challenging, requires practice and cooperation
between partners, but very rewarding when it works out right.

I think it had a mention in some other source(s) than Arbeau (possibley
an Italian one?), but I can't recall now where I saw it, and may be
suffering from wishful thinking. Maybe someone else will remember...

Hope this is some help.

Eoin, Trimaris ...where performers of the volta are sadly lacking :-( 

On Fri, 3 Feb 2006 15:02:53 -0800 (PST), "Lydia Revesz"
<lydiarevesz at yahoo.com> said:
>  How accurate is the
> movie?  What resources for La Volta are available,
> aside from Arbeau?  
[and quoted, also clipped]
> > I have always wanted to know what the "Volta" dance
> > is! It's the one that 
> > Elizabeth and 
> > Robert Dudley do in the "Elizabeth" movie, and it
> > looks like so much fun, but 
> > I've yet to see it performed. 

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